The Titans are well-placed against the Warriors, but the Knights piled on the runs against the Lions to give themselves a chance in the title battle.
The Titans got to 48-2 by the close of play after skittling the Warriors for 187 on day one in Benoni.
The defending champions will feel relatively pleased with the way they went about their work on day one of the final round of this season’s Sunfoil Series, but will rue the late wickets which prevented them from pushing on in the final session.
With the Knights piling on the runs against the Lions in Johannesburg, Mark Boucher’s side will be wary of posting a decent first-innings total at Willowmoore Park, for they will be stretched all the way if the Knights go on to win their match.
The bowlers laid the foundations for a potential Titans victory in the first two-and-a-bit sessions, as Malusi Siboto led the way up front to leave the Warriors reeling on 28-3. Siboto has been in excellent form this season, sitting second in the wicket-taking charts with 36 wickets from his eight matches so far. Colin Ingram led the fightback with a resilient 49, with the middle order failing to hang around with him. Simon Harmer put together a vital 46 not out, but spinner Shaun von Berg damaged the tail with two quick wickets to finish on 4-59.
In response, the first wicket fell in the fourth over as young paceman Anrich Nortje found the edge of Heino Kuhn’s bat to cause the experienced opener to walk back for six. Spin then played its part yet again as Aiden Markram departed for seven, bowled by skipper Harmer. Crucially for the Titans, Dean Elgar is still in. He will go in to day two on 31 and will be joined by Heinrich Klaasen on one, as they look to bat through 100 overs to give themselves every chance of retaining their Sunfoil Series title.
The Knights are certainly putting pressure on the Titans to perform. After 93 overs, Nicky Boje’s side are sitting on a massive 408-7, and will look to score as many runs as they can in the next seven overs to maximise their bonus points. The more they score, the more the Titans will need to score, presuming both sides go on to win their matches.
The big total was inspired by brisk fifties from Diego Rosier and Theunis de Bruyn, before Pite van Biljon struck 119, as the Lions’ all-out pace attack had no answers against the Knights’ top order.
Elsewhere in the title race, the Cobras enjoyed a successful day with the bat as Andrew Puttick and Stiaan van Zyl both scored centuries to lift their side to 298-6 against the Dolphins. They should, however, have been far better placed had they not lost four wickets for 49 runs inside the final hour.
Before that it was all one-way traffic with Puttick and Van Zyl bossing proceedings. Veteran opener Puttick top-scored with 116 (240 balls, 10 fours, 1 six) as he compiled the 26th century of his career. Former Proteas batsman Van Zyl hit a brisk 108 (165 balls, 13 fours) for his 20th first-class ton with the pair sharing in a 160-run second-wicket stand.
There were also starts for Justin Ontong (30) and Jason Smith (25), but by then the home side had fought back in to the contest by hurting the Cobras with late wickets. Senuran Muthusamy was the pick of the bowlers with his 3-27, while debutant Attie Maposa claimed his first wickets at franchise level with 2-58.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi